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Irish rowers to host Bearcats

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 15, 2005

The muddy waters of St. Joseph’s River may not appear favorable to most onlookers, but the members of the Notre Dame women’s crew team hope those waters prove conducive to speed.

The river that plays host to Notre Dame for all fall and spring water practices will now hold the shells of the Irish and their opponent, the Cincinnati Bearcats, this Sunday in Notre Dame’s sole home regatta of the year.

According to Irish coach Martin Stone, the course that will be used for the regatta is radically different than the section of the water plied by the Irish women on a regular basis.

Although the course’s location may be strange, coach Stone is optimistic.

“The familiarity of the team with the river will help,” Stone said.

He feels that his team will be able to recognize certain landmarks along the way that will help to give a sense of bearing and progress through the course, perhaps giving the Irish an advantage.

Cincinnati is fresh off of a successful Southern soj-ourn where the Bearcats defeated a strong field of teams, including North Carolina, Navy and Delaware, at the Carolina Rowing Invitat-ional.

“The Car-olina Invita-tional had some schools with some speed,” Stone said.

Despite beating a field of competitive teams, the time the Bearcats’ varsity eight posted, 7:2-3.90, is far slower than the time often posted by the Irish women.

Such a discrepancy shou-ld favor a lengthy Irish victory in the 2,000 meter race, but Stone is not taking the Bearcats lightly.

“I think that for us, we need to race well and execute our plan, and just win,” Stone said of his general goals for the regatta. “I think it is critical to win [this weekend]. We have got to get this done.”

The Irish are heading into the final 20 strokes of the season with the next two weekends’ regattas. It is at this juncture that much less than a first place finish in any varsity eight race will make it tough for the NCAA selection committee to make a case for an Irish bid.

A clear victory over Cincinnati is key considering next weekend brings to bat the twin dangers of Harvard and Yale in the chilly confines of Boston, followed by the Big East Championships.

The Irish women were faced with a minor stumbling block earlier this week when their regatta with Michigan State had to be cancelled due to inclement weather.

The cancellation hindered Stone’s chances to improve his different crew lineups.

“It had a dramatic effect with our selection pieces,” the coach said.